Who do you turn to when you need help?
There are often times in our lives when we have a dilemma or situation that makes us feel lost or helpless. In these times, we naturally seek out advice or a friendly shoulder to lean on. While there is nothing wrong with reaching out to a friend or family member when you need a kind ear, there are also situations where a mental health professional becomes necessary.
The American Psychological Association says half of all American households have at least one family member in active therapy or counseling. That’s a lot of people! For some, the need to have an impartial listener is imperative to their mental stability. If you simply want to vent about a situation that has caused you distress, a friend or family member can certainly listen and often give good advice. This will make you feel better, at least for a while.
When is it time to seek out professional help?
There are also times when venting is not enough. You need help, guidance, and coping tools that friends and family cannot provide for you. If you find yourself facing the same issues over and over or your problem is not going away, it may be time to seek out the help of a professional counselor. A therapist or counselor is a mental health professional who is dedicated to your care. They can help you develop tools and coping mechanisms to get you through rough patches. For example, a counselor can give you exercises and things to do when you’re experiencing a panic or anxiety attack. Seeking out the help of a professional does not mean you have failed. It does not mean your friends and family can’t help you. It means you have made the very important decision to take control of your mental health instead of letting it control you.
What if you can’t afford therapy?
Many insurance plans cover mental health services, even if you aren’t aware of it. If you’re not sure, call your insurance carrier and ask. They can explain any relevant coverage to you and sometimes give you a list of counselors who accept your insurance. Often, mental health care is covered by your insurance with a small out-of-pocket expense to you.
If you do not have insurance or cannot pay the out-of-pocket portion, there are many free options for those seeking help. Did you know if you’re in the United States, you can dial 2-1-1 from almost anywhere and reach a local human and social services center in your area? Most of the time, you can reach a human who can give you lots of information and resources for free therapy.
You can also check with local churches or your employer. Even if you are not an attending member of the church, they often have free counseling available or know of many resources in your community you can turn to. Your employer may have a free EAP (Employee Assistance Program) you can utilize to get free counseling sessions. Ask your human resources department for more information.
What if you can’t go to in-person therapy?
There are many online options for counseling as well. Some charge fees, but there a several options that provide services absolutely free. You can have a video call, phone call, or even texting session with your counselor for free. There are many that are highly regarded in the mental health industry such as 7 Cups of Tea, BlahTherapy, and HealthTap. When you need help, don’t make excuses. There is someone who can help just moments away.